It's about so much more than how they look—promise.

By Emily Abbate
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Photo: NIKITA TV / Shutterstock

When I got into running a little more than eight years ago, I was wearing a pair of New Balance sneakers that were about a size and a half too small. I loved the look of them, thought that a "snug" fit was good for support, and figured that oh-so-ugh black toenails were a badge of honor for anyone logging lots of miles. As time went on and the number of races I tackled annually increased, so did my craving for better-suited kicks. (Also: I wanted to keep my toenails.)

Shortly after completing my first marathon, I changed jobs and became a full-time editor of a health and fitness media brand, and then I got certified as a trainer and run coach. Consequently, I was testing out sneakers on a regular basis. Trail running sneakers. HIIT sneakers. CrossFit sneakers. Sneakers meant for sprinting. You get the point: a lot of sneakers. To say that I've amassed quite the collection by now would be a large understatement. Yet, as I gear up for my sixth marathon, I find myself reaching for the exact same pair six days out of seven: the Asics Dynaflyte.

The neutral sneaker debuted in 2016, and I was immediately hooked on how comfortable they felt. Offering a considerable amount of cushioning for such a lightweight sneaker, the DynaFlyte-which has had a couple new iterations since it first launched-is my Cinderella slipper for anything under, say, 15 miles.

That's not to say that other sneakers in my collection aren't great for other activities. I've got favorites from Nike (the Vomero, Epic React), Reebok (Flexweave, SpeedTR), APL (Phantom), and Brooks (Ghost) that I rotate in as well. But there's something, for me, about the DynaFlyte that feels like Old Faithful. I know that without a doubt, it'll be a no-blisters, no discomfort, hassle-free run.

When you're looking for your best running sneaker, there are a lot of things to take into account. A few things I'd suggest: Ask yourself, how long will I be wearing these and for what kind of workout? And, what type of surface am I going to be running on? If there's one thing I would implore you to remember, it's that you should prioritize the answers to those questions over aesthetics. While there are specialty sneakers made for each and every foot type (brands take pronation, or how your foot interacts with the ground during your stride, into account during the design process), the ultimate decision should be based on how it feels on your foot. (Related: The Best Workout Shoes for Acing Every Kind of Exercise)

Don't just take my word for it: Science agrees that comfort reigns supreme. One study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, stressed that sneaker comfort is key to preventing injuries. Researchers gave more than 900 beginner runners neutral shoes to wear, regardless of their personal foot pronation or supination, and followed them for one year. They found that runners faced the same risk of injury, regardless of the shoe. Translation: If it feels good to you, wear it-even if the guy at the store says your gait requires a specially designed sneaker. When you feel good, you perform even better.

Comments (2)

Anonymous
April 16, 2018
Yes!! Why do you put a picture then yack about other shoes & never explain which shoes you really wear?!
Anonymous
April 16, 2018
What are the black sneakers in the top picture??